WASHINGTON (Reuters) - American and German officials sought to overcome tension between their governments on Wednesday following reports that the U.S. National Security Agency monitored German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone.
A meeting between White House national security adviser Susan Rice and her German counterpart came a week after an infuriated Merkel complained to President Barack Obama about accusations that the United States had for years been eavesdropping on her.
Obama, in response to the diplomatic outcry that grew out of the reports, is considering a ban on U.S. eavesdropping on leaders of allied nations, senior administration officials say.
German’s national security adviser, Christoph Heusgen, and the German chancellery intelligence coordinator, Guenter Heiss, sat down with Rice and Obama’s homeland security adviser, Lisa Monaco, at the White House.
U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and NSA Deputy Director Chris Inglis also participated.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the meeting was “part of our efforts to resolve some of the tension that has arisen out of some reports about surveillance activities reportedly being conducted by the U.S.”
Obama is under pressure to reassure allies about the scope and scale of American intelligence gathering. The White House has promised that U.S. officials are not and will not in the future eavesdrop on Merkel’s communications.
Caitlin Hayden, spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, said the meeting was an attempt to intensify and strengthen cooperation between U.S. and German intelligence services.
“Today’s discussions were an opportunity to hear from one another and jointly determine how the dialogue can best proceed in order to provide the necessary assurance and strengthen our cooperation,” she said.
Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Doina Chiacu and Xavier Briand